Archive for the ‘Kevin Costner’ Category

Black Or White

26 Feb

Black Or White – written and directed by Mike Binder. Drama Lite. 121 minutes Color 2015.


The Story: The grandfather of a little girl of mixed race fends off adoption by her black grandmother.


I think I’ll stop going to movies written by the director. I’ll find out beforehand and save my time and fee.

For I’ve grown tired of seeing films as ill judged as they usually are by author/directors. Films such as this one where only one half of the story is honored, where only one half comes to life. Directors who write their own stuff have virtually no sense of the quality, needs, or truth of their material. It’s their baby. They just want to get it on. Blind love, like the love of the grandmother for her worthless son.

In this case the film comes to life because of the rich playing of Kevin Costner. The camera and the story monopolize him to the point of such absurdity that he is even provided with a comic gremlin in the form of a tutor for his granddaughter, that is a waste of time and an insult to the audience’s credulity.

All this while, the black side of the “or” is under-written and played essentially for comic relief. Which is shameful. Aren’t those black folks funny! Are they musical, though! Don’t they know how to yell! Isn’t Ebonics entertaining!

The grandmother needs to be a lot crazier than Octavia Spencer is allowed to act her, and her son, the father of the child, needs to be extracted from the stereotype of a drug addict, which is all the writer is capable of. The writer knows nothing of black drug addicts. Or black people entirely. Their presence here under his pen is a rude imposture. A deed of racial profiling. The writing of the black folks lacks, not fairness, but the essential ingredient for all story-telling: imagination!

This means there is no real drama, no true pull, nothing deep at stake. For there is nothing human on the black side of the “or” in a story that requires absolute balance of the weightiest sort to get itself told in a way that counts.

What we leave with is a hugely improbably kitchen table speech of Kevin Costner at the courtroom, which he does beautifully, however, and which has so much truth to it, it is almost worth seeing the film for it.

As it is, without true, significant opposition to him, we have nothing to digest, nothing to stick to our ribs.

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Posted in DRAMA LITE, Kevin Costner, MIDDLE-CLASS DRAMA, Octavia Spencer, Social Drama


Rumor Has It

20 Jul

Rumor Has It – Directed by Rob Reiner. Upper Class Romantic Comedy. The Graduate Part II. 97 minutes Color 2005.

* * *

We are doing fine as long as Mark Ruffalo is with us. When force of circumstances require our heroine, Jennifer Aniston, to separate him out, the story declines in all areas of its life. Kathy Bates in a white Harpo wig enters in a muumuu the size of a stadium and give a performance to match. This followed by Kevin Costner who almost escapes execution by the false premise of a script which takes Miss Aniston on a billionaire bash, a treat which impresses her nothing, since the gal is from Pasadena, where billionaires are as to flies on cheese. Even the remarkable Richard Jenkins turns in a bad performance. Now, I ask you, if he fails, can winter be far behind? It is not. It takes the form of Shirley MacLaine, in a part requiring the deftness of Myrna Loy; instead she runs the schtick she has run for the past 30 years, that of a stinker granny, turning every line she utters into the stab of a yellow jacket. Aniston alone skims across this mire unscathed, I don’t know how. For one thing her touch on a role is infinitely light. For another, she really is a master comedienne. She seems to be quite tiny, but her size gives her an appeal, which is met by her tiny features in the broad plains of her face. Inside her, as inside Mickey Rourke, is the instrument of a harpsichord, so that she is never stuffy but also never undignified, even when disdignity looms. She is probably not a physical comedienne, as were Katharine Hepburn and Carole Lombard, but is more along the lines of Jean Arthur, who had a quirky voice just as Aniston has quirky mouth, and one we love to have with us so we can watch it and wonder. She knows exactly how to register the merest ripple of difficulty. You’ve got to hand it to her, except I hope no one ever again hands her a movie so badly written and directed as this one is. Mark Ruffalo, where are you when we need you? Oh, there you are, gasp, true blue to the end!



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